Ivy Prep students learn economics lessons selling homemade goods at market
Jayla Walker didn’t advertise her homemade jewelry or sell trinkets for deep discounts. She hoped that by offering a quality product, customers would line up to spend their money at her booth.
And she was right.
Business at “Jayla’s Charms” was brisk on Market Day, an annual event held at Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett to teach students lessons on economics, math and social studies.
More than 200 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders this week participated in Market Day. Students were challenged to develop their own products and sell them using a currency created by the school called “Ivy bucks.”
The businesses that made the most money won the competition.
“We want our students to learn how to be entrepreneurs,” said Sam Aranson, a social studies teacher at Ivy Prep. Market Day gives them that experience. "They develop a product, set the price and determine how to advertise."
Three areas of the school were transformed into makeshift food courts and strip malls during the event. Some students sold services like manicures. Some hawked holiday gifts and ornaments. Others sold hot foods.
On the cafeteria sales floor, seventh grader Jayla Walker, was worried at first that her booth would get lost in the crowd. “There are a lot of businesses around here and I didn’t make a sign,” she said as she looked nervously at the competition.
But she had a strategy that set her business apart. In addition to selling beaded bracelets, she allowed customers to make them. “I’ve sold a lot.”
Ivy Prep Gwinnett principal Victoria Hudson was impressed by the variety of businesses and the advertising campaigns of her students. Several had signs and slogans touting their products.
“This is an opportunity for girls to see economics live,” Hudson said. “They are learning about supply and demand, the quality of a product and good customer service.”
In the gym, Areej Shaheen, set up a spread of desserts on a table in a sunlit corner. She called the business “Sweet Treat Emporium.” It had a presentation of sweets that stopped customers in their tracks.
Areej’s business partner Sana Nagaria handled the cash. Areej closed sales, placing sweet delicacies on napkins and smiling broadly at her customers. “I would like to have my own business one day – maybe a bakery,” Areej said.
With so much to eat at Market Day, “AJ’s and Nia’s,” a beverage booth run by seventh graders Nia Rutherford and Aalivia Johnson, thought they would make money if they sold drinks to students. The girls sold a selection of sodas. Students could add sour gummy worms to their drinks for an up charge.
One big spender offered to “buy-out” the grape soda because she was so thirsty. She offered $4. “It was way too low,” said Nia.
The economics lesson also taught students about handling personal budgets.
Each group was given $20 in “Ivy” bucks to spend. If they wanted to buy more than their allowance could accommodate, the girls had to dip into their profits.
“We want to teach them to be responsible with their money,” Aranson said. “If they want to win, they can’t spend all of their money.”
For some students, the temptation to buy was too much.
As the end of the contest approached, shopkeepers slashed prices to move the merchandise off the sales floor for a win. Some discounted services like manicures and face-painting. Students who couldn’t resist the sales, used their business profits to buy gifts for family, friends and a few things for themselves.
Abi Ladiipo carried a bag full of Market Day purchases. She said her jewelry business “Abi’s Jewelry Shop” was so successful that she “sold out,” She learned that she could charge more when the demand was high. Her $7 bracelets made of power cords were her most popular item.
“I made $125,” Ladipo said. “But I spent all but $5.”
The winners of the event held their profits tightly.
Asa Pilson, 12, won the seventh grade Market Day challenge selling colorful hair pins made out of buttons. It was her second Market Day victory in a row.
She said she had to get creative to attract sales and be frugal with profits. “I made $407 and only spent $6 of it,” Asa said. “I’m a good business person.”
Areej and Sana’s “Sweet Treat Emporium” was the eighth grade winner. Their business grossed more than $400. Shama Khan and Brittany Cook won the sixth grade competition.
The scholars will receive free lunch for them and their close friends.
The entrepreneurial lesson continued after the winners were announced.
Ayoola Ladipo, 12, swept the cafeteria when business was done. She said that running a business, wasn’t just about making sales and attracting customers. There’s clean-up involved, too. “Cleaning up is hard work,” she said. “I’ve been pushing this broom for a half hour.”